Is this Camden Town’s last bohemian gasp?

Bulldozers will soon flatten swathes of NW1. But impressive street art is springing up on the condemned buildings before the inevitable day, says Alex Wilks

'Camden’s past is not going down without a final flourish'. All photos: Alex Wilks
‘Camden’s past is not going down without a final flourish’. All photos: Alex Wilks
For years the grand old Victorian villas on Hawley Street and electrical workshops on Torbay Street and Leybourne Road have been home to musicians, squat parties and artists, seemingly holding out against the relentless regeneration of the Camden Market area.

But now, having miraculously escaped the fire of 2008, time is finally up for the run-down canalside quarter. From next month, it will start to be demolished as part of the Hawley Wharf development.

Thank goodness, then, that internationally-renowned collective The Real Art of Street Art are making sure this vestige of Camden’s bohemian past is not going down without a final flourish. In fact, they’re flat out transforming it with murals from both local and global artists. Here, take a look below:

The Camden-based collective is embedded within the London street art community and supports it both online and in the real world, by providing “legal walls” to paint on.


Working with folk from around the world, it’s already behind much of the street art around the postcode and has secured permission from the council to cover the crumbling quarter before it’s cleared to make way for a school. Artists just have to find a space to paint and get clearance from the collective by contacting them via Facebook.

It’s both an initiative that is very much in keeping with Camden’s creative heritage and an exciting opportunity to showcase work in an unusual location, with some of the artworks covering entire buildings, and new pieces popping up every day. Check out the Je Suis Charlie work by artist Ink Fetish (see gallery, above) that appeared last week, for example.

But with the bulldozers due to sweep in in February, there isn’t much time left to enjoy the spectacle. So our advice is to head there without delay.

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Alex Wilks blogs here. For more info on The Real Art of Street Art see their Facebook page. Interest piqued? Read about Kentish Town’s infamous squatting scene here.

  • Show Comments

  • Lilly

    A lot of house parties are gone

  • Mary Nugent

    It’s very sad that the demolition will actually happen despite all the objections …however I am really glad that these artists are giving life to these buildings …albeit temporary…Rock on.

  • CN

    It is incredibly unbalanced to give no mention to the drug dealing and crime that these locations have also housed. So long as it respects the character and intent of the community, which is so much much vibrant that squatter houseparties, why would we not welcome the regeneration?